With the increasingly fluctuating temperatures we have been experiencing lately, pets and humans alike are greatly affected by the inability to adjust to colder days.
Animals have the ability to change their coats in response to the weather as it gradually changes. Keeping animals indoors and having highly variable temperatures prevents our pets' coats and pads from adapting in the winter.
If you too have a dog that looks at you with "I hope this is a joke" eyes when you open the door and a cold wind hits him in the face, read our tips to help you and your little companions cope with winter.
We often ask ourselves, "How cold is too cold for my pet to be outside?". The answer varies depending on many factors such as age, breed, health status, body fat percentage and fitness level, which affect the ability to withstand sub-zero temperatures.
Younger pets, who are used to running and playing outside in all seasons, can usually withstand temperatures down to 10°C without needing a coat. On the other hand, an older, less fit dog may need a coat when it's 20 degrees.
Conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and arthritis can create cold intolerance, especially in freezing rain or wet snow.
If your pet resists going outside, it may be that the weather is too cold for his or her acclimation level. On the other hand, it may be an indication of an undiagnosed immune, renal, cardiovascular or endocrine system disorder. Be sure to tell your veterinarian, so that he or she can ensure your pet is healthy for outdoor activities.
When you go out in winter, look for some of the signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, whining, burrowing or resistance to movement means it's time to check your pet's temperature and warm him up. But how do we know what the right body temperature is for our pets? Temperatures below 99 degrees on a rectal thermometer are abnormal, and below 98, pets can't shake to get warm. We do not recommend using ear thermometers, as they are not reliable in pets.
Here are some tips to help make winter a little warmer for our pooches:
1) Invest in clothing: Some pets living outside with shelter can acclimate to cold temperatures. But those who live with us need extra layers in the freezing cold.
2) Prioritize warm foods: During the winter months, your pets can eat warmed foods to create internal heat. This will go a long way in helping your dog's temperature rise quickly.
3) Foot protection: If your pet does not wear boots, be sure to use a good paw and pad balm. When you get home from a cold walk, give your dog a warm foot bath and dry his feet with a towel to remove the snow.
4) For young pets: If you are potty training your dog, create indoor and outdoor potty training areas for the winter months so he can get used to low temperatures. Pets under 6 months of age should not spend more than a few minutes outside when the temperature is below 20, and do not leave any pet outside unattended below 20 degrees.
5) Warm up indoors: Warming up, before venturing outside, will make the experience more enjoyable. Exercise indoors with your dog using his toys: you can throw his ball a few times to warm him up.
6) Keep aging pets comfortable: Cold weather can aggravate arthritis because it puts stress on aging bodies, which reduces internal heat. Always remember to take extra care with your older dogs.
Remember to consult your veterinarian if you notice a change in your pet's activity, water intake or energy level. Older pets can become confused and wander off when they are dehydrated and cold.
7) Dry skin: Just because it's not hot doesn't mean we and our pets don't need to stay hydrated. Remember to keep plenty of water available inside and out to avoid dehydration. Adding dietary supplements containing omega 3 fatty acids to your dog's diet is also recommended so that he has all the nutrients he needs to last the winter.
With our advices you can now enjoy a safe winter with your pets!